Thursday, January 4, 2018

PIONEER DAYS; by Mr. A. D.; 1949

                                 HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL!

If the following account sounds reminiscent of the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods, it would not be surprising. Mr. Dahlin was born less than a month before Laura, and his home was only 120 miles west of "The Little House" in the big Wisconsin woods.

I was born in Dalsland, Sweden, January 10, 1867. When I was two months old, my parents together with their eight other children, immigrated to America. Our belongings consisted of clothing, tools, food, and a very small amount of money.

After a four week ocean voyage we arrived in Jordan, Minnesota, where father obtained employment on the railroad at $1.25 a day.

In 1869, we moved to Belle Plaine where we purchased 40 acres of land. Here was built our first one room log cabin. With the aid of two oxen and one horse, three acres were cleared the first summer. The winter was spent in making railroad ties and barrel hoops. With the arrival of spring, it was a familiar sight to see buckets hanging on the trees, and to hear the echo of maple sap dripping into the containers. Maple sap was cooked in a huge iron kettle which supplied the family with syrup and sugar.

In 1875, the farm was sold and a 160 acre tract of land was purchased at $6.00 an acre in Hale Township, Mcleod County (about 50 miles away.) Here we built a two-room log cabin, with two windows, and a low slanting roof. Our furniture was made up of home-made benches, a table, and sleeping bunks. The cabin was lighted with candles made by mother. By this light she spun, knit, and made straw hats.

Mcleod County was a “Poor Man’s Paradise.” There was an abundance of all kinds of wild fruit, berries, and nuts; which provided food for the family table. On a moonlight night, one could see several deer in the rutabaga patch. Lakes were filled with fish, and pools were covered with ducks. The pioneer’s alarm clock was the song of the birds. It sounded as though the whole earth were joined together into one choir of song.

My father built the first log school house in 1877. In 1891, my brother and I erected a new building on the same lot and it is still in use. School was in session six months out of the year and attendance was largest on stormy days, as children had to work when weather permitted.

Every Sunday morning we walked six miles to church. Sunday afternoons, I attended Sunday School at one of the pioneer homes.

Spelling bees, square dances, skating, sliding, and husking bees were the main sources of entertainment. Many  hours were spent playing with a rag ball or mouth organ.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

OUR GRAND ADVENTURE; Katherine of Michigan; 1929

Dear Farmer's Wife:

"My Boy" and I started out fourteen years ago, he, fresh from a bank job, and I, from the schoolroom. We knew almost nothing about farming, but felt as truly "called" as Abraham did in the days of old.

"They'll be back in town within two years," our friends prophesied. But we're still here.

After seven years of stock-share renting in the richest state in the cornbelt, we felt that we must launch out and try to buy, and to farm independently. But where? Farm land there was booming, and we felt unwilling to try to carry such a load of debt. Then the promise came to our minds:  "Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass." And this one, "All things are possible to him that believeth."

The past seven years have been one grand adventure. We were marvelously led to Michigan, and given opportunity to buy a splendid farm in an ideal location. Our children love the farm, although they attend town school. But best of all, we feel that here we have a real opportunity for self-expression and service.

We owe our incentive to "launch out" partly to the splendid example and encouragement of others. But most of all, our inspiration is of Divine origin. We take no credit to ourselves for our small measure of success. We still have far to go. But this we do know:  God will lead those who want to be led and "All things are possible to him that believeth."

More success to The Farmer's Wife.


Dear Editor:

My daughter of seventeen has learned to dance from her schoolmates and is making both herself and me very unhappy because I cannot feel it is right to permit her to attend dances. She has always been a good, obedient girl in everything else, but now says that if she "can't do as other nice girls she knows are allowed to do, she will leave home when she is eighteen and earn her own living and do as she pleases." I have prayed over this, and reasoned with her, but she will not give up, and says she will dance. I would be so glad if the editor or other mothers who have had the same experience would advise me what to do.--A Troubled Mother

Dear Troubled Mother:

The editor may not be the proper person to make any suggestions in this matter, as I must admit to sympathizing with all young people who wish to enjoy youthful pleasures while they may. Personally, if a young girl has been properly taught and is safe-guarded as she should be by her parents when she goes out, I can see no more harm in dancing than in skating, walking or riding with a young man.

To this day I very much enjoy watching a dance, and, so far as my observation has gone, at no other gathering is there so much real courtesy, and pleasing manners shown as at a dance. But I have never looked on at a public dance, neither would I allow my daughters to attend one.

Were parents in country neighborhoods as careful of their daughters as really well-bred people should be, there could be no possible harm in their dancing. But it is customary in most rural communities for young girls to go out evenings unaccompanied by any member of their families. Girls should be not allowed to go out with young men who are not personally known to their parents. And a girl so young as seventeen years should be accompanied to and from places of evening amusement by some member of her family. Attended thus there could be no harm in a girl's going to a dancing party, to which invitations were issued only to the young people in the neighborhood known to be of irreproachable character. And if a girl has received proper home training and teaching from her parents she will not want, in fact cannot be induced to attend a party of any other character. Such a dancing party is much more respectable and productive of less harm than many church sociables, which are "free-for-all," where anyone who pays the price is admitted and allowed to mingle with the young people in games that are often "kissing games," and highly improper.

Young people must have amusement and if parents exercise a little thought in providing them with pleasing recreations, properly conducted, with companions of known good character, all will be well. But, alas! too many parents seem to have forgotten the desires and pleasures of youth, and either seek to keep their children entirely at home, or leave them free to go where and with whosoever they will, to save themselves the trouble of getting ready to go out, or because it is customary in their neighborhood.

OUR HOME CLUB; January 1906


I was glad to see that my practice of taking a little time daily for rest was practically endorsed by at least one of the writers for The Farmer's Wife. Every day after the dinner work is done up I lie down for from a half an hour to an hour.

Sometimes I do not fall asleep, but generally I get a few moment's sleep, which is most refreshing and I get up really feeling like a new woman. In the summer time, when the days are long and we are up early, I often lie down awhile in the forenoon, and get rest that is needed to help me through the morning. Of course there is work for every moment of the day, but if I tried to work all day without rest I should soon be obliged to go to bed and leave all undone. By never missing my rest hour I keep well enough to manage my housekeeping with the children's help. While I am lying down they play quietly and are careful not to disturb me. Try my plan, some of you busy, overworked mothers of the Home Club and take a new lease of life and cheerfulness.


Just "speak up like a man," and tell the young lady the state of your feelings toward her and your wish to make her your wife. From her acceptance of your attentions the past year, I think there is little doubt but that she may answer as you wish. Leave the details of the ring until afterwards, she will undoubtedly be glad to be consulted. There is no formula for proposing marriage, every man does it in his own way, and generally has no trouble in making himself understood. Sure of your success, we send hearty congratulations.


The idea seems to prevail extensively in the United States that milking is not proper work for a woman. We cannot but think that it is somewhat unfortunate. The girls growing up in the household ought to learn to milk. Such work is not beyond their strength, though they should not be required to carry pails of milk. By assisting in this exercise girls will be encouraged in habits of industry. Many of them seem to think it is undignified to engage in such work. Such a view is not well grounded. Labor that is right and proper is always ennobling and no one should be ashamed to perform it. Every girl, therefore, brought up on the farm should be as carefully instructed in the art of milking as she is in performing on a musical instrument.

There is another reason why women should take a share in the milking. Cows as a rule, will give more milk in a given time when the milk is drawn by women. This is owning to the more gentle way in which they go about their work. Men are oftentimes harsh and petulant when cows are refractory: women are more patient. Let no young girl on an American farm blush to acknowledge that she is able to milk a cow.


Published in The Farmer's Wife magazine, Marion Craig's column, "Just Us Girls," was written to advise and encourage girls and young women. Considering that this was a "family-friendly" publication, I think that she handled the subject quite tactfully. 

Somehow I wish I need not talk about this subject. There are so many things in the world more inspiring and interesting and constructive and I had hoped that each of my girls had thought it out for herself and had come to the right conclusion in her own mind.

However, it keeps coming up and so I decided we would have it out and then we would put it away and not speak of it again--ever.

By this time, you will wonder what I am talking about. It is the old, old question of familiarities between girls and boys--where shall a self-respecting, fun-loving, truly nice girl draw the line? Some question, is it not?

Perhaps if I had not most unexpectedly been shown a boy's viewpoint, I should not have answered your questions here but as he told me this of himself I felt that perhaps fate had planned that I should pass his message on. He told me exactly how he and other boys feel toward certain types of girls and he told it so straight, that I am sure you will feel his sincerity.

First I want to explain that this boy is a typical boy--not a prude in any sense of the word, possibly cleaner minded than scores of other boys, but very human. I know, that as every normal boy should, he likes girls and seeks their company whenever he can.

"Of course boys are attracted by girls who will let them be familiar," he said. "Maybe they seek them out rather more than the other kind but deep down in their hearts, they do not respect them and they do not choose them for wives--at least not often."

"And why not?" I asked.

He hesitated. It was hard for him to explain.

"I think," he said finally, "it is because they do not trust such girls. They feel that girls who are not true to the principles their mothers taught them and people like you have impressed upon them and that they can learn in so many ways even if they have not had the right influences at home, are not to be trusted in other things. That's the way I feel anyway. A boy may take that kind of girl out for a picnic or a ride but as for marrying her--well that is different.

And there is the secret of the whole thing. A young man wants his wife, the mother of his children, to be "different" from "that kind of a girl."

Do you want to be the kind of girl whom a boy tolerates only in picnics or rides or other good times? Or would you like to think he might some day ask you to share his life, too?

More than once girls have written this to me: "Boys do not ask me to go with them because I do not let them do the things other girls allow."

My girls must be little missionaries to such boys! Do not preach to them; do not tell them familiarities are wrong or assume a moralizing air. They will hate that! Simply set them an example so fine and high and desirable that they will want to imitate you. Let what you do tell them what you are--and what they should be.

The next time a boy wants to put his arm about you or kiss you good night, say something like this to him:

"I do not do such things because I feel there should be a basis of true love for such actions. I do not love you nor do you love me. We are just friends. I do not want to cheapen real love, for some day the right man, I hope, will come into my life and I do not wish to cheat him--or myself."

No truly fine girl will marry a boy who is careless in these ways.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


This is Grandmother speaking--speaking out of a rich experience with life and a sound wisdom:

"When times were hard with us sixty-odd years ago--and they were harder than you know about even in these days--Father would gather his family around him of an evening and say, 'Let us pray.'

"And when we had had a short season of communion with God through which we gained new strength and courage, Mother would say, 'Now let us play.' Then would follow an hour of such active games as blindman's buff, and puss wants a corner, and later such quieter games as tic-tac-toe and old mill. Sometimes other families joined us and before they started for home we would make a feast of pop corn.

"So, playing and playing, we got a spiritual and mental refreshment that made the trials of the morrow seem much easier to face. Seems like to me that this generation of today might get something of value out of praying and playing just as we did sixty-odd years ago."

Never--once--since the world began
Has the sun ever once stopped shining;
His face very often we could not see,
And we grumbled at His inconstancy;
But the clouds were really to blame, not He,
For, behind them, He was shining.

And so--behind life's darkest clouds,
God's love is always shining,
We veil it at times with our faithless fears,
And darken our sight with our foolish tears,
But in time the atmosphere always clears,
For His love is always shining.

Dear Editor:  Our little six-year-old had been getting perfect spelling lessons for some time. One day his paper was marked "Good+." This grade was nothing to worry about, but we questioned him as to his lower grade. 

"It must be the depression, Mother," he said. "It does so many funny things."--Mrs. R. L. W., Iowa

Thursday, September 22, 2016

NO STRUGGLE--NO FUN; Perfectly-Farm-Crazy in Wisconsin; 1929

Dear Folks:

Don't we young folks nowadays want a bit too much? Most of us have a car. We want a beautiful home, telephone, radio, electricity, a new hat every season, silk stockings, and what not? Our parents weren't brought up in silk underwear. Are we better than they?

We bought our farm a year ago. Although it hasn't been easy sledding I don't regret our step. If there were no struggle, there'd be no fun.

Times of discouragement come to all humans. When I wish for modern improvements I think of my Mother, who came from a city in Germany, and whose first home in this country, after marriage, was a sod shanty in Nebraska. I have many more advantages than she had. Why grumble?

God said to Adam:  "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread." He knows what is best for us. He has decreed that struggle and attainment shall go hand in hand.

I've often heard the remark:  "Farming is the worst job on earth." Let him who thinks so, spend a day in the mines, a week in the stone quarry, a year in the factory. Perhaps even the so-called "white-collar-jobs" aren't as easy as they look. Farming is the job where head and hand may work together.

Before closing, I wish to say that The Farmer's Wife is not a mere magazine, but an honest-to-goodness friend.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


As you can see from my last post, the editors of The Farmer's Wife magazine didn't shy away from printing letters that spoke of the love of God. I find this so refreshing, especially in our present day. If you appreciate the stories and wisdom found in the Bible, I hope that you will enjoy my upcoming book, The Bible Sampler Quilt. The book features 96 Bible passage paired with 96, six-inch Bible-themed quilt blocks. For the following verses, I chose the quilt block, "Love Knot."
"Love Knot"

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, "For Your sake we are being put to death all day, we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered." But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord...Romans 8:35-39

The Bible Sampler Quilt includes a CD with templates, full-size block line drawings, foundation patterns and rotary cutting measurements when applicable. It is expected to be released sometime in the next four to six weeks. If you are interested in purchasing an autographed copy, please write to Laurie at Another option is to preorder the book directly from Amazon (link to the left.) If the second option is chosen, you are eligible to download a free "bonus block" from

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever...Isaiah 40:8

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

GOD IS LOVE; Nebraska; 1929

Dear Farmer's Wife:

Guess I'll just write you a line and give you a peep into the life of another busy farmer's wife. Married at fifteen, I became the mother of five rosy, chubby babies in less than eight years. When the third babe arrived we decided town was no place for a "poor man," so we rented a farm.

Well, the first year our hogs died with cholera; the second, all the kiddies, including Daddy, were very sick with scarlet fever; and the third, our four work horses broke the gate and got into the seed wheat and died. Such has been our luck, but have we given up? Not much!

It's true I've shed a good many tears, and it isn't so funny to wear a winter coat ten years. Yet a person can't afford to think of these trivial matters where others are concerned. And when at meal time our baby Ken bows his curly head and says "God is Love," I can truly say I'm not sorry for the sacrifice.--Anna.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

WE'VE GOT EACH OTHER; Illinois; 1929

Dear Farmer's Wives:

Two years ago I suffered severely with a stroke of--no, not paralysis--discontent. I suffered as much as if I had had a much more serious ailment, to say nothing of what my family bore.

Yes, I was blue and discontented. I lamented my lot as a farmer's wife, a servant, a drudge, a "stick in the mud." Same old housework day after day! Nothing to strive for, nothing to win!

I railed at my good, farmer-lad husband until he--well, he won't quarrel, so he just stayed out of my way as much as he could. Finally, as much for his benefit as my own, he urged me to take a vacation. My work had been heavy all summer, he said, and I needed a change. Of course selfish pig that I was, I never stopped to think that his had been just as heavy and that he needed a rest as well as I. But after threshing I shoved the extra burden of cooking and housekeeping over on him, packed, and with the kiddies left for Cousin Maud's in the city.

I wanted to try city life. It was so alluring in books and stories. I wanted to see it--hear it,--live it.

Dear Readers, I'm glad I went. Did I have a good time?

Well, the first day, I stayed in bed all day with a sick headache because the noise from the street kept me awake most of the night after our arrival.

The second day, a darling little boy was run over by an automobile, directly in front of Cousin Maud's house. He was on his way to school--and was carried home, dying.

The third day, while Cousin Maud was away on an errand, the pale, little neighbor-woman, who had come out for a breath of air, wandered over to the porch, where I was sitting and told me her story.

An ex-school teacher, she was, who had to give up her work because she faced possible blindness. The stalwart young man, who loved her, took her to a tiny cottage in the suburbs where they were married and were so happy until a ghastly siege of inflammatory rheumatism left him helpless, a cripple, unable to use either limb. She struggled on, eking out a living for the two as long as she could and when their baby arrived, one little foot was a club foot--

"Oh," she said, "it has been hard, but we're so happy. You see, we've got each other--and we've got the baby."

The fourth day--I went home! And after the surprise was over, for we surely did surprise Daddy, and I had placed a hot beefsteak-supper on the table, I stood watching my big, healthy, ruddy-faced husband who looked so happy and so good to me, and my two little boys, with their fat, perfect legs dangling from the chairs, that were a trifle too high.

"Fool!" I said to myself. "Oh, worse than fool! 'Count your many blessings.' You didn't dream how many you had!"